ADAM JOHNSON is braced for a sterner test of Sunderland’s derby day credentials this year after two comprehensive victories at St James’s Park.
Sunderland have equalled their biggest post-war margin of victory over Newcastle United in each of their last two visits to Tyneside after back-to-back 3-0 triumphs.
But Black Cats winger Johnson, on the scoresheet in both of those wins, doesn’t expect lightning to strike three times with such a one-sided victory this weekend.
After remaining winless during the opening seven games of the season, Newcastle have produced a remarkable turnaround to rise to eighth in the Premier League table.
And with Sunderland unbeaten in their last five games against the Magpies, Johnson knows Alan Pardew’s side will be desperate to reclaim the bragging rights on Sunday.
Johnson said: “It’s going to be a totally different game this time. But then I think I said that last year after the first 3-0!
“But I genuinely think that this time.
“Over the last couple of times, we’ve taken advantage on the counter-attack against them.
“But they’re playing really well at the moment and playing in a different kind of way.
“Maybe last season we caught them at a good time and took advantage of that. We were playing well at that time and needed results.”
Johnson has never tasted defeat against Newcastle while in red and white, yet he admits he would sacrifice one loss against the Magpies this season if Sunderland ended the season as North East top dogs.
Draw specialists Sunderland currently lie seven points adrift of the Magpies, who have a Capital One Cup quarter-final at Tottenham tonight.
Johnson added: “To be fair, I think I’ve been fortunate in derbies. I’ve played four, won three and drawn one. That’s not too bad!
“The fans sometimes say if you win the two derbies, it doesn’t matter where you finish.
“But I’d rather finish above them and lose one of the derbies personally.
“These games are massively important for reasons of local pride, but we need to treat it like any other game.
“Yeah you can enjoy it... after.
“But in the game, you just have to stay focused and concentrate.
“You forget everything around you anyway in a derby. You don’t hear anything, you’re just so focused on the game.
“You can’t take your eye off it for a second.”